Pinnick. Photo: TWITTER/THENFF

Beats Malawi’s Nyamilandu 43-8 Votes
• ‘Buhari Stood By Me Diplomatically’

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick yesterday became the third Nigerian to be elected into the FIFA Council, securing a landslide victory over his only challenger, Malawi’s Walter Nyamilandu, by 43-8 votes.

The duo of Pinnick and Nyamilandu were left to battle for the Anglophone slot after four other candidates had stepped down for the Nigerian on the eve of the election. The 43rd Ordinary and Elective General Assembly of CAF took place inside the Royal Ballroom of the Sofitel Hotel in Rabat, Morocco’s administrative capital.

First to withdraw was Lamine Bajo of The Gambia. The race became smoother for Pinnick when three other candidates threw in the towel. They are Nick Mwendwa of Kenya, Wallace Karia of Tanzania, and Andrew Kamanga of Zambia.

The victory against the incumbent Walter Nyamilandu saw the Delta State-born sports administrator become the third Nigerian, after the late Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo and Dr. Amos Adamu to be elected into the FIFA Council – the highest decision-making organ in world football.

The General Secretary of NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi voted on behalf of Nigeria.

Pinnick’s victory is a remarkable case of rapid global football boardroom upliftment for a man who, a little over six-and-half years ago, had no intention of contesting for even board members of the NFF, but has now been in the post for six-and-half years (becoming the first person to democratically secure a second term), won election as Member of the CAF Executive Committee, served as CAF’s 1st Vice President, still serving as Member of the Organizing Committee for FIFA Competitions, and now a revered member of the world’s highest decision-making organ for football.

“First, I thank God who made this victory possible,” Pinnick said after the election. “And sincerely, I must thank President Muhammadu Buhari because he stood by me diplomatically throughout the campaign. This is not political. I thank all Nigerians who stood by me. My victory will open the door for others, and my first step will be to reposition football.”

Pinnick’s entry into the 37-member FIFA Council came, and was accomplished hours after the man he supported for the CAF Presidency, Dr. Patrice Motsepe of South Africa, mounted the ‘throne’ unchallenged.

Motsepe’s challengers, Augustine Senghor of Senegal, Ahmed Yahya of Mauritania, and Jacques Anouma of Cote d’Ivoire had all withdrawn from the race before yesterday’s poll.

The elevation is for a four-year term, and automatically makes Pinnick a Member of the Executive Committee of the Confederation of African Football.

Nigeria’s delegation to Morocco was led by the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Nebolisa Anako.

Dr Patrice Thlopane Motsepe, a mining billionaire, who is also into banking and telecommunications, and has businesses in 40 African countries, is also the owner of the top South African club, Mamelodi Sundowns.

In his acceptance speech, Motsepe expressed gratitude to the African football family for his attainment of the position, saying it is a huge honour to serve African football at the highest level. “All of us can and will work together,” he said, underscoring the need for teamwork, collaboration and sense of togetherness as he praised Senghor, Yahya, and Anouma who withdrew from the race.

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